Tanaka sharp in first outing but Yankees lose to Phillies

New York Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka throws during the second inning of a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies. (Mike Carlson/AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Masahiro Tanaka’s road to opening day is off to a promising start.

The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings in his first spring appearance but the New York Yankees lost 6-5 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

Tanaka looked fine after having a procedure in October to remove a bone spur on his pitching elbow. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out two.

"I’m pretty satisfied with how I pitched," Tanaka said through a translator. "Just to see how I feel the next day is important. Mechanics is also a thing I’m aware of, and hitting my spots."

The Yankees’ ace was 25-12 with a 3.16 ERA during his first two years in pinstripes. Both seasons were shortened by injuries.

"I do feel I can be back to that form because it feels better," he said about his elbow.

Tanaka’s goal is to be ready to start New York’s opener against the Houston Astros on April 4.

"The idea is that he’s our No. 1 starter, but you’ve got to see how he does, where he is physically," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Andrew Knapp hit a three-run homer in a six-run sixth for Philadelphia.

"He’s got a great swing from both sides of the plate," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He looks like a hitter. He knows what he’s doing."

Austin Romine had two doubles and three RBIs for the Yankees.

Charlie Morton allowed one run and one hit in 2 1-3 innings in his first start for Philadelphia since being acquired from Pittsburgh.

"To be able to go up and down and keep the ball in the zone until pretty much that third inning, I’m really encouraged," Morton said.

HOT CORNER DEBUT

Yankees infielder Rob Refsnyder, an outfielder-turned-second baseman, made his first start at third base and started a nifty 5-4-3 double play with a nice pick on a sharp grounder by Carlos Ruiz. The Yankees are looking for ways to get Refsnyder’s bat in the lineup. He hit .302 (13 for 43) with five extra-base hits in a brief stint with New York last September.

STARTING TIME

Yankees: Tanaka got one of his strikeouts on a slider and the other on a splitter. "As we go deeper into games, I should be better," he said.

Phillies: Morton got four of his seven outs on grounders and two more on strikeouts. Keeping the ball on the ground will be a key to success at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park this summer. "One thing I do very well is keep the ball on the ground when things are going well," Morton said. "So that’s kind of indicative of where I’m at."

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (mild groin tightness) felt fine a day after throwing a two-inning simulated game. He is scheduled to make his first start Thursday.

Phillies: OF Aaron Altherr flew to Philadelphia to see a hand specialist for his left wrist injury. He got hurt diving for a ball in right field during the first inning of Friday’s 12-11 win over Atlanta. … OF-INF Cody Asche is moving closer to returning from an oblique injury.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP Andrew Miller and RHP Dellin Betances, part of a deep bullpen that features new closer Aroldis Chapman, will pitch for the first time Monday against Houston. RHP Michael Pineda will make his first spring start. … Chapman struck out three of five batters in his first simulated game Sunday. The left-hander threw 13 of 19 pitches for strikes.

Phillies: RHP Vincent Velasquez (0-0, 9.00 ERA) starts against Pittsburgh. Velasquez is competing for a spot in the rotation.